Irish Coin Daily: Viking Silver Trade Ingot (Cast)


Irish coin cabinet 7

Date: c. 800-1000 AD

A 'cast' Viking Silver Trade Ingot, c. 800-1000 AD – a sub-rectangular in plan and ovate in section, and tapering to a rounded point at each end. The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin, Ireland.

 

Description:

A ‘cast’ Viking Silver Trade Ingot, c. 800-1000 AD – a sub-rectangular in plan and ovate in section, and tapering to a rounded point at each end, the ‘upper’ sides are almost smooth while the underside displays numerous cast marks and striations. Features two deep, nearly parallel cuts to the top which divide the ingot into thirds.

Condition as seen. Rare found as a complete ingot, often seen as hack-silver (which may explain the cuts on the present piece)

  • These ingots were also used by the the Danelaw Vikings in the North and East of England. Parallels for such ingots can be found in the Cuerdale Viking silver hoard from Lancashire which includes similar long, narrow examples and was deposited circa 905-910.
    • Refs:
      • (J. Graham-Campbell, 2011, The Cuerdale Hoard and related Viking-Age silver and gold from Britain and Ireland in the British Museum, London, pl. 3, 1: 17-18).
        • Weight: 34.81 grams
        • Length: 75mm (approx. 2.75 inches) x 10mm x 8mm.

Country:

  • Ireland

Category:

  • Viking
    • Proto-Currency
      • Silver Trading Ingot

 


Additional Information:

It is easy to think of currency as banknotes or coins but the Vikings traded internationally across vast distances and they traded with a wide variety of cultures – some that used coins and others that did not. As such, they had to be very flexible in terms of payments.

The Vikings themselves, influenced by their contact with many different cultures and economies, evolved from a Status Economy (where wealth was measured and stored in Neck Rings and Arm Rings made from precious metals) to a Coin Economy (silver coins) via a Bullion Economy (where wealth was transferred via lumps of precious metal that was weighed).

  • Trade ingots belong to this ‘intermediate’ phase, i.e. the Bullion Economy
    • Coins of uniform weight were much more convenient for trading
    • For example, this small trade ingot could have been converted to
      • 7 Phase I (Hiberno-Norse) coins, with some left over
      • By reducing the silver content and weight, even more Phase II could have been produced

The Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, Cork and Limerick Vikings would have used trade ingots in their ‘larger’ commercial transactions. Trade ingots like the one above + many other lumps of silver have been found throughout Ireland. These finds are known as ‘hack silver’ since they usually comprise a mass of jumbled precious metal.

  • At first, the Vikings imported coins into Ireland
  • Anglo-Saxon, Carolingian and Islamic coins have been found in Viking Dublin
  • These coins have also been found in or near to the other Irish viking towns
    • As far we know, only the Dublin vikings “minted” their own coins in Ireland

Further Reading:

 

 

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